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Beans

UK Garden Centre - An overview of the various types of beans

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We all know beans when we see them, and yet their classification is bewildering. Words like ‘flageolet’ and ‘haricot’ are used to describe both the maturity of the bean at cooking time and also the varieties which are favoured for producing seeds at these stages of maturity. American catalogues contain unfamiliar groupings such as ‘snap’, ‘pole’, and ‘lima’ – it would take a while to explain all the terms, but the descriptions below should help to clear up the major misunderstandings. Beans make up an individual group for the cook and also for the gatherer of odd facts – beans have been found alongside prehistoric man and yet our old favourite, the runner bean, was grown as an ornamental flower and not as a vegetable until late Victorian times.

French Bean
Suitable for growing in the U.K.
Other names: Dwarf bean, Kidney bean, String bean (U.S.), Snap bean (U.S.)
Nearly all are bush varieties – several climbing varieties are available.
Uses:
Green – (Haricot vert (Fr.), Green snap bean (U.S.)) Pods containing immature beans are cooked and eaten. (Main use of home-grown produce)
Flageolet – (Flageolet (Fr.) Green shell bean (U.S.)) Beans only are eaten – cooked when beans are still fresh.
Haricot – (Haricot sec (Fr.) Dry shell bean (U.S.)) Beans only are eaten – cooked after the beans have been dried.

Broad Bean
Suitable for growing in the U.K.
Other names: Fava bean (U.S.) English bean (U.S.)
All are bush varieties.
Uses:
Green – Young pods containing immature beans are cooked and eaten.
Shelled – Beans only are eaten – cooked when beans are still fresh. (Main use of home-grown produce)
Dried – Beans only are eaten – cooked after the beans have been dried.

Runner bean
Suitable for growing in the U.K.
Other name: Scarlet runner.
Nearly all are Climbing (Pole or Stick) varieties – one or two Bush varieties are available.
Uses:
Green – Young pods containing immature beans are cooked and eaten. (Main use of home-grown produce)
Dried – Beans only are eaten – cooked after the beans have been dried.

Bean Sprouts
Suitable for growing in the U.K.
Types available: Mung bean, Adzuki bean.
Use:
Sprouted – Beans are sown indoors and the young seedlings are eaten raw or lightly cooked. (Main use of home-grown produce)

Soya Bean
Not reliable in the U.K. Viskby V tried, but not really successful.
Other name: Soybean
Bush and Climbing (Pole) varieties are available.
Uses:
Green – Young pods containing immature beans are cooked and eaten.
Shelled – Beans only are eaten – cooked when beans are still fresh.
Dried – Beans only are eaten – cooked after the beans have been dried. (Main use of home-grown produce)

Lima Bean
Not reliable in the U.K.
Other names: Butter bean (U.K.), Madagascar bean.
Bush and Climbing (Pole) varieties are available.
Uses:
Green – Young pods containing immature beans are cooked and eaten.
Shelled – Beans only are eaten – cooked when beans are still fresh.
Dried – Beans only are eaten – cooked after the beans have been dried. (Main use of home-grown produce.)


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